It’s been two years since I graduated college.
For the most part, I have no complaints about my campus experience. I had a great group of friends; I managed to do well in (the majority of) my courses, and I took a semester to study abroad in Italy.
College presented an important period of my “development,” and I think everything that happened over the course of my time at school did so for a reason -- the good and the bad -- although it may have taken me some time to gain the perspective required to recognize it.
But, still, two years later, I can’t say I wouldn’t do things slightly differently if I had the chance to do it all again. After going through college once, you’re aware of things you simply weren’t prior to graduating.
Little things, like how to make good first impressions with professors and how to make the most of your meal plan without starving yourself.
That said, I’m also more aware of some of the bigger parts of college that I may have taken for granted, two years ago.
So, as I sit here reflecting back on college, here are a few things I wish I paid more attention to when I was just a freshman. Hopefully, it can open your eyes to some aspects of school you might be overlooking, too.
1. I wish I fully explored my campus
Even the biggest campuses in America can become somewhat limiting when you fall victim to routines and comfort zones.
It’s good to get into a rhythm while at college -- but when you start seeing the same faces in the same places, it can become more of a process than an experience.
Try to shake things up while you’re at school. Walk through a different part of campus; try studying at a library you’ve never been to before.
Every campus will have its own fair share of “hidden gems,” but they’re not always easy to find.
Use the time you’re on campus to explore as much of it as you can. Take pride in your campus.
For the four years you’re there, it’ll be the place you call home -- and if you take that for granted, you’ll regret it once you’re gone.
2. I wish I joined a club
College is a time for networking. And, while most of the socializing you do in college will probably be at done at some bar with cheap drink specials, it’s important to get involved around campus too.
There are a ton of different types of clubs at every college, ones that most students will never even know existed unless they proactively do some digging. I urge you to. It’s best to have friends with a variety of different people at college.
And just because you join a club, doesn’t mean your fellow club members necessarily have to be your friends for life. There will come a day when you’ll appreciate the diversity in your own network.
You’ll also learn how to cultivate your passions by committing to an organization of interest.
3. I wish I met more people
A lot of times, especially as an underclassman, the amount of people walking around campus at a given time can be overwhelming, especially if you’re someone who entered college without knowing a lot of people there, prior.
There’s nothing wrong with being shy -- but it’ll pay dividends if you can try to overcome it.
Smile at strangers. Say “Hello.” Nobody is going to be offended by your gesture of kindness, and you may end up meeting a lifelong friend that you never would’ve met had you not.
4. I wish I fully appreciated my freedom
You may not recognize it until after you graduate, but you’ll never again have the amount of freedom that you did in college.
Aside from going to class and getting all your work done, there’s little else that’s required of you over the four years you’re at school -- so make the most of your time.
Take the time out to appreciate the small things -- because when they say you’ll never have your college years back, they’re right. There are so many things to get involved with while at college. Every day should bring a new experience.
5. I wish I tried on more “hats”
In general, I suppose if I could go back to college, I would be even more willing to try things, with regard to other people, other parts of campus and even aspects of my own self.
I studied psychology in college -- I think it’s safe to say that, at this point in my life, I will never work a job relating to the field of psychology.
I sort of just fulfilled that major to fulfill a major, if you get what I’m saying. If I could go back to college, I would probably have tried a few more things before pigeonholing myself into one field.
There’s nothing wrong with not knowing what the f*ck you want to do with your life, especially in college.